Alpha Chi Omega, Lambda Phi Epsilon, and Q House have won three 114th Street brownstones, Dean of Student Affairs Kevin Shollenberger announced on Friday.
Alpha Chi Omega was the only Panhellenic Council sorority without a brownstone, although it has an East Campus townhouse. Lambda Phi Epsilon, the Asian-American interest fraternity, currently has an East Campus townhouse, and Q House is based out of a suite in Ruggles Hall. The groups will move into the brownstones in fall 2013.
There were six finalists competing for the three brownstones, four of them Greek organizations: Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Lambda Phi Epsilon, Manhattan House by the Native American Council, Pi Kappa Alpha, and Q House.
Brian Wu, SEAS ’15 and co-chair of Lambda’s brownstone application committee, said he was “still shaking” out of surprise and excitement that his fraternity would be getting the brownstone at 542 W. 114th Street. He noted that Lambda is the first member of the Multicultural Greek Council, which consists of six fraternities and six sororities, to get housing on Fraternity Row.
“There is all this diversity on campus, and the fact that we have a multicultural group at the forefront of Columbia is a great image,” Wu said.
After members of AXO gathered for a photo on the steps of their new home at 536 W. 114th St., chapter president Katie Huryk, BC ’13, said in a statement, “Alpha Chi Omega is absolutely thrilled for the opportunity to reside in a university Brownstone beginning next fall. We have so much respect for the other organizations who applied, and we are excited to show the Columbia community what we can do with this space.”
A committee of four administrators and six students—four of whom are members of Greek organizations—reviewed the finalists and made recommendations to Student Affairs administrators, who made the final decision.
“The review and selection process for these brownstones was a difficult task, but it has allowed us to think more about how we can meet the needs of our residential community through a variety of housing options,” Shollenberger said in an email announcing the selections.
Greek life has been expanding over the last few years, with more students joining fraternities and sororities and new organizations coming to campus. Two new sororities, Alpha Omicron Pi and Gamma Phi Beta, will form chapters at Columbia over the next few years, and a new fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon, is planning to colonize at Columbia this year.
The three brownstones—at 536, 542, and 546 W. 114th Street—had belonged to Pi Kappa Alpha, Psi Upsilon, and Alpha Epsilon Pi, respectively, until March 2011, when the University kicked them out of the buildings following the arrest of several members for selling drugs.
All three fraternities reapplied for brownstones, but none were selected. Psi Upsilon was the only one not named a finalist.
Thirteen organizations originally applied for brownstones, and the organizations that didn’t get one might turn their attention to the former convent brownstones being converted into undergraduate housing on West 113th Street. Administrators are planning to give the three interconnected brownstones, which will become undergraduate housing in fall 2013, to three special interest communities.
Shollenberger said that administrators would finalize an application process for the convent housing by early December and that the process would begin early next semester.
Correction: An earlier version of this story included a reference to "Lambda Alpha Epsilon," not Lambda Phi Epsilon. An earlier version of this story also referred to Alpha Chi Omega as the only sorority without a brownstone, rather than the only Panhellenic Council sorority without a brownstone, and neglected to mention the sorority's East Campus townhouse. Additionally, an earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Brian Wu's school and class year: He is SEAS '15, not CC '15. Spectator regrets the errors.